On 26 August, I arrived in Niamey, Niger, as member of a ShelterBox Response Team, along with team member Fiona McElroy from the United Kingdom. The area is experiencing its worst flooding in 50 years, and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs had put out a request for assistance.
Prior to the flooding, the country was already struggling with an invasion of locusts, a cholera epidemic, a flow of refugees from Mali, and a food shortage affecting all of the Sahel region. The flooding has seriously stretched the government’s resources.
This is my third deployment to Niger. It was a pleasure and a benefit to our mission to reconnect with my good friend Gaston Kaba, a Rotarian and past district governor, and work with other high-ranking government officials. Fiona has been a great asset with her ability to coordinate with the other NGOs responding to the disaster. Through her efforts, the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED), based in France, pegged us as the logical agency to receive disaster relief money from USAID, and we were able to respond to a 48-hour deadline to receive the funds.
Those funds, coupled with US$417,000 from donors around the world, allowed ShelterBox to supply 1,000 tents, mosquito nets, and water purification straws to families in the region. We have been working closely with the governor of the region to put the supplies to the best use. Families in two other significantly affected regions, Dosso and Tillabary, are being assisted by UNICEF and ACTED.
A second response team will continue our efforts after we return. It is a real privilege to represent ShelterBox as a response team member. I am particularly grateful to all the donors within the Rotary family for making my presence here possible. ShelterBox is a dynamic and effective player on the world stage and with your ongoing support, we will continue to help our brothers and sisters who are most vulnerable.